Lithographic broadside, “D-Day Prayer.”
“LEAD THEM STRAIGHT AND TRUE; GIVE STRENGTH TO THEIR ARMS, STOUTNESS TO THEIR HEARTS, STEADFASTNESS IN THEIR FAITH”; MAGNIFICENT LIMITED EDITION OF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT’S D-DAY PRAYER, ONE OF ONLY 50 COPIES PRINTED, BROADCAST THE NIGHT OF THE NORMANDY INVASION
Lithographic broadside, “D-Day Prayer.”
ROOSEVELT, Franklin D.
Item Number: 67012
Washington, D.C:, Christmas, 1944.
Limited edition of this rare broadside of the “D-Day Prayer,” one of only 50 printed copies issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his close friends, handsomely printed in gothic type with red, blue and gold ink textual embellishments. The broadside measures 14 inches by 21 inches, printed in black gothic type, capital letters and portions of the heading in red and blue ink. Double matted and framed. The entire piece measures 20.5 inches by 28 inches. A rare and desirable piece of history.
On June 6th, 1944, while American and Allied troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, Roosevelt released the text of a prayer in the afternoon which he then delivered by radio to the nation at 10:00 p.m., Eastern time. It is estimated, according to Andrew Malcolm, that as many as 100 million people listened to it. “The prayer does not invoke one faith, but the appeal to God is bold and unapologetic. The D-Day Prayer was an extraordinary event in U.S. religious history” (Malcolm). The D-Day Prayer reads, in full: “Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far. And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer: Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest—until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for an end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom. And for us at home—fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them—help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in their hour of great sacrifice. Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts. Give us strength, too—strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces. And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment—let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose. With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace—a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just reward of their honest toil. Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen. Christmas-1933-from F.D.R.” This copy belonged to the descendants of John Boettiger, who was married to Roosevelt’s daughter Anna in 1944 (they later divorced). According to family lore, Boettiger and Anna assisted in the writing of the speech. According to Curtis Roosevelt, Anna’s son and John’s stepson, in his memoir, Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents: Franklin and Eleanor, in the spring of 1944, “just before the invasion of Normandy, Papa [F.D.R.] had asked Mummy and Popsie to help him write his D-Day message, which he intended to broadcast to Americans on the day that tide-turning operation was launched. I heard my grandfather give much of the credit for composing it to his son-in-law, whenever the subject came up. Whichever of my relations produced it, it was intensely moving…”